Keeping awake till 2 a.m. everyday in a small rented house inside a compound of eight similar dwellings in Tirunelveli town, S Jasmine, a student of Corporation Girls' Higher Secondary School, has topped the S.S.L.C exams with a score of 495 out of 500.

“The prayers of my parents, guidance of teachers and my hard work helped me top the exams,'' she says. After obtaining B.E. in Computer Science and Engineering, she wants to become a civil servant to serve society, particularly the poorest of the poor.

Her father M. Shaik Dawood is a hawker selling dress material criss-crossing villages in the district on his two-wheeler. This prompted her elder brother, S. Imran, to work as a sales executive after obtaining a Diploma in Electronics to support the family financially.

Jasmine's scores: Tamil – 98, English – 99, Mathematics – 100, Science – 100 and Social Science – 98.

A surprise

The top rank in the matriculation stream has come as a pleasant surprise for S. Pavithra, a student of Bannari Amman Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Sathyamangalam. She has scored centum in Mathematics and Science, 99 marks in Social Science, 98 marks each in Tamil and English subjects to secure the first rank.

“I did not expect State rank. I was only expecting a good score. It is a pleasant surprise,” she says, thanking the school management and teachers for providing special attention. “My parents C. Saravanan and Nirmala, both doctors, encouraged me to prepare well and asked me not to worry about the ranks.” She wants to pursue a career in engineering.

Two girls from Coimbatore shared the first rank in the Anglo Indian stream. S. Rene Angel of St. Francis Anglo Indian Girls' High School and J. Namrita of Stanes Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School scored 483 out of 500. Both secured centum in maths and science.

“Inspired by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, I want to study aeronautical engineering,” says Angel. Her schoolmate Aravinthini got 482 marks to secure the second rank.

R. Shiva Preeya of PA Vdiya Bhavan Higher Secondary School, Thalapatti in Karur district, is a second rank holder in S.S.L.C. with a score of 494. After a course in computer science, she wants to specialise in astronomy and join ISRO. Third rank-holder M. Ramya, daughter of a transport corporation bus conductor, and student of AVS High School, Puliyangudi, wants to be a neurosurgeon.

M. Jeyeline of Sarah Tucker Girls' Higher Secondary School, Palayamkottai, another third rank holder, wants to be civil servant.